New cars do have some advantages

@VDCDriver Yes, I recall having a Morris Minor long stroke as a job car as a summer engineering student. It involved once a week driving to the Head Office on a freeway for 60 miles and the rest driving on the job as a pipeline inspector. I burned the valves out at 20,000 miles while never driving over 60 mph. But the leather upholstery smelled nice.

The record for a 50s car without an engine overhaul, I believe, is a Minnesota hardware salesman who drive a 1957 Chevy Bel Air 6 for over 400,000 miles without any internal engine work (rings and valves). He was super careful and changed oil and filter every 1000 miles, using the best oil available. He had block heater so the engine started warm. It’s worth noting that he had over 400,000 miles on the clock by early 1972, thus putting on over 80,000 miles per year.

I did a ring and valve job on the 1948 Chevy at about 80,000 miles.

And, in my recollections, engine durability was even shorter than 100k miles. When I was a kid (in the '50s), it seemed that everyone had--at the very least--a valve job done on their engines by 50k miles, and many of those folks had the rings replaced at the same time.
While I don't doubt the experiences many have had with older engines, I have to wonder how much of that was the engines, and how much of that was the inferior oils in use at the time. It seems to me that currently-operating trucks using yeseterday's tech (i.e. GMs with 350s and 454s--and Fords with 302s and 300s) seem to last PLENTY long.

My truck has a 300 inline-6 in it, and when that was a “new idea”, the Beatles were best known as Chuck Berry’s opening act! The only things “modern” about that engine are the oils (and to a certain extent, the batch-fire EFI).

Before there were interstate highways and freeways automobiles accumulated most of their miles in what would be considered in town driving, i.e., red light to red light and although I am not aware of what percentage of automobiles were automatics I would guess that manual transmissions were the norm and solid lifters were used on most manual transmission cars and trucks. Compounding all that negative environment for the automobile was the poor (compared to current) motor oils and engine venting via road vent tubes and it’s amazing that any family cars lasted 100,000 miles. An old friend grew up in the early 50s working in his family’s full service gas station in a small town and recalls regular customers who travelled for business having their cars serviced regularly and accumulating well over 100,000 miles and trading them in not making it known that the indicated mileage was WAAAAY off. Many cars of that time could survive a great many miles when properly maintained and sensibly driven. Kinda like cars today.

^So the engines only “lasted 100k” in part because the ODO only measured 100K? How delightfully, logically cynical of you!

P.S. I’m inclined to believe…

I think it was meant that the odometer rolled over to zeros again at 100K so if the guy drove it another 25K, it would be sold as a car with 25K on it instead of 125K and no one was the wiser. Back then there were no requirements for stating the actual mileage and turning it back was pretty common.


Not only was turning back the odometer pretty common in those days, but it was actually GM corporate policy regarding used Cadillacs sold by Caddy dealers. The slogan was something along the lines of…A pre-owned Cadillac is better than a new car of any other make.

In the '50s, Cadillacs were superbly-engineered vehicles, but the claim about a used Caddy being superior to any new car was just a bunch of …male bovine excrement.

VDC, was there any claim made ever by a salesman about any car that wasn’t a bunch of bovine excrement?

Excellent point!

For the benefit of some of the newer members, I would post the tale of my brother’s experience with a car salesman regarding the details of a traction control system. However, the veterans of this board have heard this tale so many times that I hesitate to regurgitate it again.

If any of the newbies want me to post it, I will…

You’re talking to a man who can’t even remember what he did yesterday…
Feel free to retell it if you wish.

I just don’t want to alienate the veterans of this board who remember reading this pathetic tale at least twice already. I am waiting for one of the newbies to tell me that he wants to hear about it, and then the veterans of the forum can ignore it if they see fit.

Hey VDC just put it a new thread as ( Really Dumb Car Salesman story ). You will not irritate anyone. Like TSM I remember the story but not all of it.

Aw, go ahead. We can all enjoy a good story more than twice.

Oh, okay…

With apologies to forum members who don’t want to read this tale again…

Back in the late '90s, my brother and SIL were car-shopping.
They had already done their due diligence and were just visiting showrooms featuring cars in which they had some interest. My brother was fully aware of new technologies and how they work. He also hates dealing with a salesperson who is ignorant about the product that he is selling.

In a particular showroom (I think it was a Mazda dealership), my brother pointed to the button on the dashboard of a car that was labeled “traction control”, and asked “What does this do?”. While he knew exactly how TC works, he wanted to assess the knowledge of the salesman who was following them around the showroom.

So…what did the salesman say in response?
He said, “Oh…when you push that button, it makes the car heavier!”

My SIL, who is not a car person, but who is very intelligent, immediately started laughing.
My brother told that salesman, “I am really impressed that the folks who designed his car figured out how to repeal the laws of Physics!”, and while the dim-bulb salesman looked on in confusion, my brother and SIL exited that showroom in search of intelligent life.

I forgot one item: With the 1950 Ford F1 basic model, you only got one sun visor, on the drivers side. The passenger got no sun visor.

I’ll add the single sun visor to the list in the OP.

A right hand sunvisor is,not a necessity as is the left hand sunvisor. The driver needs at least one hand on the steering wheel but the passenger can put his/her hands over his/her eyes.

I’ll admit there is some appeal to the minimalist way Henry Ford thought about stuff.

But me, I’ll take two sun visors. To Ford’s credit, I expect if you wanted two, you could get two. Just have to pay a little more is all.

Actually, throughout the 1950s a right hand sunvisor was an option on the bottom trimline of the low priced cars and most pickup trucks.


I agree. No passenger sunvisor needed


Today’s basic cars are a good compromise in comfort and safety. My first car, a 1948 Chevrolet lacked:

  1. Turn signals; part of the standard driving test was the proper hand signals for making a turn
  2. Seat belts and shoulder harness
  3. Heater with fresh air intake; the inside heater, like a miniature garage heater hung from under the dash and reheated the same stale air.
  4. Intermittent wipers and WW washers.
  5. Disk brakes, power brakes
  6. Rear window defroster
  7. Any form of crash protection
  8. Dual cylinder brakes; one leak and all braking was lost
  9. No radio; this was an expensive and unreliable option; radios still had tubes
  10. Ball joint front suspension; those nasty king pins developed the shakes after a while
  11. Power steering

My '53 Ford pickup truck did have intermittent wipers, especially while climbing hills, when you needed a wipe, you lifted your foot off the gas.
Radio? Hah, that thing was so noisy you couldn’t have heard it anyway.

Power steering? Power brakes? Feh! Next thing you know you’ll be wanting an electric starter!
photo propcopy.jpg

Thanks VDC. I always get a laugh out of that story.

There are lots of things that we’ve come to expect that weren’t common in early cars. Like metal roofs, windshield wipers, and even electric starters. Very early VW Beetles had a little finger built into the B-pillar that extended to indicate an intent to turn. I found an image of one to show you young guys.